How to Convert Bike Disk Brakes

Written by justin wash
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How to Convert Bike Disk Brakes
Convert your bike to disk brakes to achieve better stopping power and efficiency. (brake mechanism image by Vasyl Vivchar from Fotolia.com)

Many new bicycles, mountain and otherwise, come standard with disk brakes. Disk brakes work better in dirt, mud and rain, providing superior braking power when you really need it. Converting your bike to disk brakes is not difficult, provided it came "disk-ready," meaning the fork, seat stays and wheel hubs have the necessary mounts for brake calipers and rotors. Convert your disk-ready bike to use disk brakes and feel the difference on the trails.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Disk-ready bike
  • 5mm torx wrench
  • Hex wrench set
  • Disc brake and rotor set

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Set your bike on its kickstand or in a dedicated work stand. If neither of these is available (many bikes do not come standard with kickstands) set the bike upside down on its handlebars and seat.

  2. 2

    Release the quick-release lever on both of the bicycle's wheels. Disconnect the cable of each of the existing brakes and pull the wheels out of the frame dropouts. Remove the brake rotors from the packaging they came in and locate the six torx head bolts that fasten each to a wheel. Attach the front and rear brake rotors to the front and read wheels using these bolts and a 5mm torx wrench.

  3. 3

    Reattach both wheels to the bike by tightening the quick release levers. Do not reattach the existing brakes. Use a 5mm hex wrench to loosen and remove the two brake mounting bolts on each brake. Set the left brake arm aside and let the right brake arm (still attached to the brake cable) hang from the brake levers.

  4. 4

    Remove the handlebar grips and loosen the brake lever clamp bolts using a 5mm hex wrench. Slide the brake levers off of the handlebars and pull the brake arms and cables off of the bike frame. You may need to cut a few zip ties to remove the cable housing.

  5. 5

    Slide the disc brake levers onto the handlebar where the old ones were: rear brake on the right, front brake on the left. If your new disk brakes are hydraulic, the brake lines will already be attached to the levers and calipers. Simply let them hang from the bars. Do not disconnect these lines and do not pull on the brake levers. Tighten the brake lever clamps and reinstall the handlebar grips.

  6. 6

    Attach the front and rear brake calipers to the front and rear brake caliper mounts on the fork and seat stays of the bike frame using a 5mm hex wrench and the mounting bolts provided. Do not tighten these bolts all the way. Once the brake calipers are in place, with the brake rotor of each wheel between the brake pads, hold the brake lever closed, then tighten the brake mounting bolts. This will centre the brake calipers so that the rotor doesn't rub on the pads when the brake is open.

  7. 7

    Attach the brake lines to the frame of the bicycle using the included zip ties. Be sure that the front brake line does not rub on the tire or it may get caught and tangled while you are riding.

  8. 8

    Double check that every bolt on the rotors, calipers and handlebar clamps is tightened securely. Take the bike for a test ride to be sure that the brakes have been installed properly. Enjoy your new increased braking power on the trails, in the mud and in the rain.

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